Health promotion

The 8th Global Conference on Health Promotion, Helsinki, Finland, 10-14 June 2013

The Helsinki statement on Health in All Policies

8th GHCP conference logo

Building on our heritage, looking to our future

The 8th Global Conference on Health Promotion was held in Helsinki, Finland from 10-14 June 2013. The meeting builds upon a rich heritage of ideas, actions and evidence originally inspired by the Alma Ata Declaration on Primary Health Care (1978) and the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion (1986). These identified intersectoral action and healthy public policy as central elements for the promotion of health, the achievement of health equity, and the realization of health as a human right. Subsequent WHO global health promotion conferences1 cemented key principles for health promotion action. These principles have been reinforced in the 2011 Rio Political Declaration on Social Determinants of Health, the 2011 Political Declaration of the UN High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases, and the 2012 Rio+20 outcome document (the Future We Want). They are also reflected in many other WHO frameworks, strategies and resolutions, and contribute to the formulation of the post-2015 development goals.

Health for All is a major societal goal of governments, and the cornerstone of sustainable

We, the participants of this conference

Affirm our commitment to equity in health and recognize that the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition. We recognize that governments have a responsibility for the health of their people and that equity in health is an expression of social justice. We know that good health enhances quality of life, increases capacity for learning, strengthens families and communities and improves workforce productivity. Likewise, action aimed at promoting equity significantly contributes to health, poverty reduction, social inclusion and security.

Health inequities between and within countries are politically, socially and economically unacceptable, as well as unfair and avoidable. Policies made in all sectors can have a profound effect on population health and health equity. In our interconnected world, health is shaped by many powerful forces, especially demographic change, rapid urbanization, climate change and globalization. While some diseases are disappearing as living conditions improve, many diseases of poverty still persist in developing countries. In many countries lifestyles and living and working environments are influenced by unrestrained marketing and subject to unsustainable production and consumption patterns. The health of the people is not only a health sector responsibility, it also embraces wider political issues such as trade and foreign policy. Tackling this requires political will to engage the whole of government in health.

Health in All Policies is an approach to public policies across sectors that systematically takes into account the health implications of decisions, seeks synergies, and avoids harmful health impacts in order to improve population health and health equity. It improves accountability of policymakers for health impacts at all levels of policy-making. It includes an emphasis on the consequences of public policies on health systems, determinants of health and well-being.

We recognize that governments have a range of priorities in which health and equity do not automatically gain precedence over other policy objectives. We call on them to ensure that health considerations are transparently taken into account in policy-making, and to open up opportunities for co-benefits across sectors and society at large.

1Subsequent conferences were held in Adelaide (1988); Sundsvall (1991); Jakarta (1997); Mexico City (2000); Bangkok (2005); Nairobi (2009).